Behind the Hawk: Rick Osborne
Behind the winning women’s Golden Hawks hockey team stands a pillar of coaching in Laurier Athletics.
Since 2004, Rick Osborne has led the Laurier women’s hockey team to 143 regular season victories, eventually helping them win the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship six years in a row.
With Osborne’s lead, the Hawks have also won one gold and two silver medals at the national championship.
However, Osborne’s path to Laurier has not been a conventional one. For over 30 years he worked for Kodak Canada as an operations manager before the “perfect timing” of his retirement led him to his current employment.
“We decided on a three-year contract and I thought I would probably be good with that,” recalled Osborne, assuming his plans would then be to settle into retirement. “The quality of people I’ve worked with at Laurier as well as the student athletes we’ve attracted has just made the job too much fun to think about quitting,” he said.
Osborne played hockey in high school, but has a history of coaching and involvement in many sports.
His daughters, both Laurier grads, were involved in soccer and hockey, though Osborne’s first years of his coaching career were spent at the highest level of baseball in the Halton and Niagara regions.
Settling into his niche coaching women’s hockey, Osborne led an under-18 team to a national championship in 1995 at the Canada Winter Games.
“That gave me a real thirst for high-performance hockey and a high-performance environment,” said Osborne, who has continued an unparalleled winning streak since this victory and since coming to coach at Laurier.
“My first post-season here when we had a team that nobody really expected would do anywhere near that well was certainly a highlight,” recalled Osborne, who has earned OUA Coach of the Year honours every season from 2005-09.
Osborne works diligently to motivate the highly skilled Golden Hawks team, and employs different strategies to ensure the team is playing their best.
Often he credits his staff, who help with his players’ mental and physical state before they hit the ice to play.
“To try to stay one small step ahead of the competition and trying to keep these highly motivated and high-character people as razor sharp as possible is such a challenge,” said Osborne. “Our players are starting to realize: why would you want to be second if you’re good enough to be first?” explained Osborne, who despite his plans to retire, doesn’t see it in his near future,.
At the end of the day, and their Golden Hawk careers, Osborne said he hoped his team would learn lessons from him that would “carry them right through Laurier Athletics and into the working world.”
“If you’re going to strive for perfection, you’re going to get excellence at the very least.”